30 August 2011
(W. D. Ross, The Right and the Good [Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1988], 137 [first published in 1930])
Note from KBJ: Since the concepts of desert and good or bad disposition do not apply to animals (who are not moral agents), their pleasure is intrinsically good and their pain intrinsically bad. (Animals, unlike humans, never deserve to suffer or to be happy, for they are not morally responsible for their behavior.) For beings (such as normal humans) to whom the concepts of desert and good or bad disposition apply, things are more complicated. Pleasure is good when, and only when, it is deserved. Pain is bad when, and only when, it is undeserved. We can say, therefore, that animal pleasure is always good, whereas human pleasure is only sometimes good; and also that animal pain is always bad, whereas human pain is only sometimes bad.
01 August 2011
We have next to consider who the "all'' are, whose happiness is to be taken into account. Are we to extend our concern to all the beings capable of pleasure and pain whose feelings are affected by our conduct? or are we to confine our view to human happiness? The former view is the one adopted by Bentham and Mill, and (I believe) by the Utilitarian school generally: and is obviously most in accordance with the universality that is characteristic of their principle. It is the Good Universal, interpreted and defined as 'happiness' or 'pleasure,' at which a Utilitarian considers it his duty to aim: and it seems arbitrary and unreasonable to exclude from the end, as so conceived, any pleasure of any sentient being.
(Henry Sidgwick, The Methods of Ethics, 7th ed. [Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1981], bk. IV, chap. I, sec. 2, p. 414 [italics in original] [first published in 1907; 1st ed. published in 1874])